Another Test Awaits the Colorado State Rams


Oct 11, 2014; Reno, NV, USA; Colorado State Rams quarterback Garrett Grayson (18) right hands off to his running back Dee Hart in the first quarter of their football game with the Nevada Wolf Pack at MacKay Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado State Rams have answered every challenge in the 2014 season and face another one when they host the Utah State Aggies in a key Mountain West Conference game. The Aggies are the defending conference champions and roll into Fort Collins off of a huge win over Air Force.

In addition to securing a key conference win, the Rams (5-1 overall, 1-1 in conference) can also get win number six which would make them bowl eligible after only seven games. Quite an accomplishment for a program that won just four games two years ago.

The Aggies (4-2 overall, 1-0 in conference) continue to play well despite losing their starting quarterback Chuckie Keaton for the season. Darrell Garrettson has stepped in for the oft injured Keaton and has played well.

The strength of the Aggies offense is the passing game with Garrettson and his favorite receiver, Hunter Sharp. It will be vital for the Rams to get pressure on Garrettson and force him into some uncharacteristic mistakes.

Defensively, the Aggies rely on turnovers to give their offense short fields to work with. The have forced 19 turnovers this season and rank 13th nationally on the defensive side of the ball.

The Rams have been able to move the ball on everyone in 2014 but this will be their toughest test to date. Quarterback Garrett Grayson must be smart with the football and the Rams have to be balanced on offense.

It would be foolish for the Rams to simply lineup and try to play smash mouth football versus the Aggies, their defense is just too good. The Rams have playmakers at wide receiver and getting the ball to the likes of Rashad Higgins will be the goal for Grayson.

Grayson needs to come out fast, he has historically struggled in the early part of games. Other than the loss at Boise State, those slow starts have not hurt the Rams but they can’t take that chance on Saturday.

If the Rams can have some early success throwing the football, then they can get the running game going with Dee Hart.

Those are the X’s and O’s but this game is about more than that for the Rams. They have a chance to for a huge conference win and it could give them the inside track for a conference championship.

The Rams have won a big road game versus Boston College, they’ve taken care of business versus lesser opponents and they won a key conference road game versus Nevada last week.

The game versus Utah State on Saturday is the next step on what Head Coach Jim McElwain has defined as the climb. The Aggies have what the Rams want, a conference championship.

In a season of tests, the Rams have passed every one of them and it’s time to step up again.

The Homecoming game is at 5:00 Mountain Time; Saturday evening on CBS Sports Network for your viewing pleasure.